Ready Readers volunteers read aloud to the same preschool students each week so the readers and children form strong bonds.
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Why Volunteer

Why volunteer for Ready Readers? It is fun, energizing, and truly makes a direct impact on the preschool children from low-income communities in our area.

Watch our Ready Readers video and find out why YOU should volunteer!

We wanted to share a few comments from our mid-year, volunteer evaluations:

This comment from Sharon B., corporate reader from Ameren, really makes a statement regarding the impact of our program… “I enjoy seeing them every week and how they progress…  listening skills are better, comprehension is better, and when we handed out the book right before Christmas, they were able to follow in the book and turn to the appropriate page.  This was a huge accomplishment for them.”

When asked to rate her Ready Readers experience on a scale from 1-5, volunteer reader Kathleen J. replied, “I would rate it a 5, because I have been with the program for 12 years and would not and could not think of any place else I’d rather be on a Tuesday.  I love books and I love children – where else could I be with both!”

Another long-term reader, Carol C., shared this comment…  “I LOVE MY TIME as a Ready Readers reader!  As I’ve said before, this is the only volunteer position I’ve ever had that I’ve kept up with for this long without any burnout or desire to cut back or quit.  Each week brings a fresh set of eyes and minds from the students and each year a new set of students.”

This comment from long-time reader Otis B. really moved us… “I continue to push myself to a higher level of performance each week, to make reading to the children “performance art” at the highest level. Our country’s future is at risk if we don’t prepare all of our kids to read well.  Whenever I look at all the hard work and energy expended by the Ready Readers staff, I cannot help but be inspired. As I see it, the staff sets an inspiring example that reflects the tone of the Ready Readers organization as a whole.  I now feel more fully prepared then I did at first.  Adding Julia Auch to the staff seems to have raised us to another level.”

Corporate volunteer from Booksource, Brandi I., shares a favorite experience…  “I love reading to the kids and it feels like I am doing sometime good in the world. Two of my students this year are returning preschoolers from last year. When I read Bear Snores On one of the little guys was so excited because I had given him that book last year. He knew all the words and was very helpful (too much, maybe) while I was reading it to his class this year. I always think it is amazing to watch their progression from the beginning of the school year to the end. They grow up so much in those few months!”

Heart-warming story from volunteer reader, Sara T. – “I feel what we do is so important. These children are so bright. I missed a couple of weeks of reading because I had the flu, when I returned I still sounded a little nasally.  When I finished my reading session, one of the little boys helped me put my books back in my bag, gave me a hug, and when I was putting my coat on, he came over and zipped my coat.  I almost lost it.”

“The volunteer experience is among the most meaningful experiences of the near six decades of life. I cherish the time with the children, teachers, administrators, families, and staff at Hope House. The time with the children each Wednesday is the absolute highlight of my week. The facility is very supportive, and the teachers are always eager to assist in providing the very best experience for the children. The children (1-2 year olds to pre-K) know the parts of the book including front of the book, back of the book, spine, title page. The 3-4 and pre-K can identify and explain the difference between the author and illustrator, use academic language such as prediction, book-walk, and hypothesis, demonstrate text directionality, model one-to-one correspondence, and demonstrate critical thinking skills.  And they are learning to differentiate between fiction and non-fiction!”   – Dr. Janis W., University of Phoenix

Mike K., a corporate volunteer from Ameren, commented, “This experience has been pleasurable for me and hopefully effective for the students.  The children are very responsive and enjoyable to be with.  They embrace the stories and show such excitement with new discoveries.  Given a hectic work schedule, my reading time can be one of the most fulfilling times in my day.  It always gets me out of my element and the children give me a lift.”

UMSL College student, Winnie W., shares her thoughts… “The orientation, continued opportunities for professional development, blogs, and the level of communication in general that Ready Readers utilizes made me feel prepared from a resources (including access to people, great materials & ideas/suggestions to engage the children) standpoint.”

When asked to comment on her experience, Sharon K., retired educator, replied, “I love everything about the program… the supportive staff, the give-away books, the ability to encourage young children to love books and reading.”

A few wonderful comments from our teachers, as well:

“I LOVE LOVE LOVE our Ready Reader!  She is excellent, sets a routine for the children, responds appropriately when they are getting restless, and chooses wonderful, age-appropriate books!”

“We have had the pleasure of working with our Ready Reader for the last two years. She is an amazing reader. The children love her. She is always very prompt and I look forward to working with her for years to come.”

“Our volunteer is a wonderful Ready Reader. He engages the students every single time he comes. He also is so enthusiastic about reading and it really helps the students become enthusiastic about it too!”

“I love this program so much. It is great having my reader come each week. This is our 3rd year working together and every year my class adores her. I also love the books my students receive. They are always high quality literature that many of my students do not have access to at home.”

“Our reader is FANTASTIC!  She is professional, fully prepared, engaging, and a blessing to have visit our classroom every week.”

Here are a few recent Facebook posts and past evaluation comments:

“I am not sure why I did not volunteer earlier. I love every minute of being a volunteer for Ready Readers. To have a classroom full of sweethearts run to hug me when I walk in the door and have them be pried away from me so I can leave is such a joy. We sing, we read and just have a wonderful time together. Thank you so much for this program, I am having a blast!!!” – Diane B., Volunteer Reader

“Hi Everyone.  Today I distributed the book, ABC T-Rex, to my children at Mt. Zion Head Start and I have never seen such great reception for any book!  They went crazy recognizing things in each picture that started with each letter and they just loved getting a copy with their names inside to take home.  I had enough to give one to both teachers and also one to stay in the classroom.  As I was leaving, the children spontaneously started singing the ABC song, so of course we three adults in the room joined in.  I came home feeling as if this had been one of the richest days of my life, and believe me, I’ve had some great ones.  Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share with these lovely children.” – Ann M., Ready Reader and retired English teacher, Ladue High School

“I’ve loved my experience at Ready Readers!  I started volunteering with the  program the first year I came to grad school in St. Louis.  I loved it so much that I’ve continued to do the program every year, even though my schedule has gotten busier and busier.  I can’t seem to say no to the program because I think it’s so great.  Not only is it well-managed as a volunteer organization, but you can really tell the kids and teachers benefit from your presence.  I’ve enjoyed getting out of the bubble of grad school and into a St. Louis community I might not otherwise have access to.  I’ve enjoyed getting to be around little kids because they give me such great perspective on life (normally, I sit in classes or read for classes all day.)  I’ve also enjoyed meeting and seeing the same teachers for a while now –they’re really great people and I’ll miss this program when I graduate.  I wish there was a Ready Readers program in every city in the U.S. because then I could  just volunteer no matter where I end up for work!” – Ready Reader and graduate student, St. Louis University

“I just love being with young children, seeing their enthusiasm for the stories, watching them mature in attention span and ability to anticipate the stories, ask questions, understand the concepts. I love their comments and reactions to the stories. I’m amazed and gratified, every year, to see the progress the children make as the year goes on. I also enjoy the challenge of finding books that “click” and discovering ways to read them that engage the children’s attention.” – Gloria B., Volunteer Reader